Devastatingly beautiful, beautifully devastating, dangerously evocative.
In the press kit going around to promote Heather Woods Broderick’s new album Glider, the artist is quoted as saying the songs on this record are the result of her paying attention to things she’d been putting off and trying to find clarity around events in her life. This is tantalizing oblique to say the least, and only begins to hint at the emotional waves that flow from artist to listener. These are songs about heartbreak, about drifting apart, about trying to find one’s self. These songs cut fast and slice deep, stabbing straight into the heart.
Broderick’s vocals are as soulful as they are ethereal; slightly breathy, occasionally husky. Neither the feelings behind the voice nor the intent driving the lyrics are obstructed by artifice. Either she is figuratively wearing her heart on her sleeve or she is unconscionably good at faking it. There is a personal, intimate quality that is unmistakable and infectious. The listener will find all sorts of thoughts, memories and emotions being pulled out of their own heart.
The production draws out and amplifies the emotional core of the material absurdly well. The backing tracks have a mix of folk, psychedelic, dream-pop and ambient. Reverb-y guitars, lo-fi pianos and the occasional muted trumpet float over the slightest hint of a rhythm section. The bass follows the changes in a no-nonsense, straight-ahead manner worthy of Michael Anthony, and the drums barely exist at all. It is a prime example of both less being more and a whole being greater than the sum of the parts.
The middle three tracks, “Wyoming,” “The Sentiments” and “A Call for Distance” are the highlights of the album. The effect is beautifully devastating and more than likely to send a visceral chill through your body. It is heartache and longing and sadness distilled into music. You can and will feel all the feels. Admittedly, that might not sound like the best recommendation for a record. While this is not a record to bring to a beach party or take on a road trip (it would be much too heavy in each scenario) it is a glorious experience and ultimately cathartic.